For Immediate Release: June 17, 2010
Washington, DC Ahead of this weekend’s World Refugee Day, Human Rights First is urging passage of legislation to fix the flawed laws and policies that now undermine the United States’ commitment to refugees. The group notes that passage of the Refugee Protection Act of 2010 would repair many of the most severe problems in the U.S. asylum and refugee resettlement systems and strengthen the nation’s ability to provide refuge to victims of religious, political, ethnic and other forms of persecution.
“While the United States has a deep commitment to refugees around the world, the United States should mark this World Refugee Day by taking steps to address the barrage of domestic laws, policies and practices that have undermined U.S. leadership in protecting refugees from persecution,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer. “For example, many refugees in the United States have been denied asylum due to a technical filing deadline, and others have been detained in jails and jail-like facilities, often without basic safeguards like an immigration court custody hearing to assess the need for continued detention. Passage of the Refugee Protection Act of 2010 would address those problems and would be a significant step toward ensuring that the United States is living up to its moral and treaty commitments to refugees.”
The Refugee Protection Act of 2010 includes provisions that would:
- Eliminate the one-year asylum filing deadline that bars refugees with well-founded fears of persecution from asylum;
- Remove barriers that prevent some asylum seekers from receiving prompt review by the immigration courts of detention decisions so that these asylum seekers are not subject to prolonged and arbitrary detention;
- Clarify the “particular social group” basis and “nexus” requirements for asylum so that the asylum requests of vulnerable individuals, including women fleeing gender-based persecution, are adjudicated fairly and consistently; and
- Protect refugees from inappropriate exclusion by refining the definitions of “terrorist activity” and “terrorist organization” so that U.S. immigration laws target actual terrorists, as opposed to hurting thousands of legitimate refugees who are not guilty of any wrongdoing and pose no threat to American security.
In addition to monitoring and advocating for the protection of the rights of refugees, Human Rights First provides legal counsel to refugees who seek asylum in the U.S. working in partnership with lawyers from major U.S. law firms who volunteer their time to represent our asylum seeker clients.
“On this World Refugee Day, Human Rights First will celebrate its volunteer attorneys’ hard work and dedication. These talented men and women have helped so many refugees and their families to rebuild their lives in safety and security in this country. We look forward to working with them in the years to come and with the U.S. government as it works to strengthen protections for refugees,” Acer concluded.
Human Rights First notes that around the world, people are forced to flee their homes due to political, religious, ethnic and other forms of persecution. Globally there are more than 15 million refugees and more than 27 million people who have been internally displaced within their own countries. A small portion of those refugees seek the protection of the United States. Last year, the United States granted asylum to 22,000 refugees and provided another 75,000 refugees with safe haven and the opportunity for a new life through the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program. These refugees fled from a wide range of places, including Burma, China, Colombia, Congo (DRC), Iraq, and Sudan.
- Read more about the Refugee Protection Act of 2010
- Read more about Human Rights First’s reform recommendations
- Watch Human Rights First’s video about refugee protection
- Urge your Senators to co-sponsor the bill